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Analysis of Tone in Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 451
  • Category: Poems

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Mid-Term Break was written by Seamus Heaney. This poem is describing a death of a younger sibling. The speaker describes the scene as being very emotional and also overbearing for the speaker. Heaney uses hints, rhymes, outward appearances, and the use of being indirect to set the tone of this poem.

When the speaker returns home from school, he appears to be stoic for his outward appearance. As people came to him they told him, “And tell me they were ‘sorry for my trouble,’ whispers informed strangers I was the eldest, away at school, as my mother held my hand,” (10-12.) These three lines show his stoic appearance as people talk to him, and when he holds his mother’s hand like a child. When these people talk to him he remains taciturn, and unchanging.

Heaney hints about time through everyday things that we do not notice to be important. “I sat all morning in the college sick bay, counting bells knelling classes to a close,” (2) is an example of time passing by. After picturing the bells ringing on the hour, it gives a dreary feeling. This feeling is about the thought about how the time is just ticking by, and as all of it will just be a memory soon enough.

For the reader the meaning of the poem is indirect until the last line. There is an eerie feeling about it until the reading of the last line, “a four foot box, a foot for every year.” The last line (22) ends the poem to leave an imprint with the reader. While reading, most people do not really expect the deceased person to actually be a four-year old child. With certain people who have experienced the death of their child, or even a niece or nephew they can understand the feelings the speaker has. For other people who have not have had experience of a child passing it would be very hard for them to understand.

Heaney does not use rhyme at all until the last line (22). He used this method to have an impact with the reader, as said before. With using this method it makes the reader take a step back and realize how old this person is. From realization it takes a hard blow, and could potentially put the reader in a melancholy mood.

For the speaker’s outward appearance he appears to be stoic, and taciturn. Heaney hints about time just passing by. With being indirect until the last line and only having rhyme in the last line Heaney imprints the reader. With using these qualities it helps set the tone, and leave an imprint with the reader.

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